A dog groomer who spends up to eight hours during the week turning his rescue dog into anything from a bumblebee to a zebra or even a glow-in-the-dark skeleton says his fabulous furs mean he now has his very own “paparazzi poodle.”
Seasoned dog owner, when Katie Darcey, 25, first adopted toy poodle Joey, five, from her local rescue in November 2018, she realized he loved people and, during the first Covid lockdown of 2020, dyed her fur like a rainbow in support of the NHS.
A natural show-off, Joey captures attention both during the makeover, using dog-friendly fur dye, and admirers when he’s out, who Katie says go into a restless frenzy when they spot him. .
Katie, who lives in Farnborough, Hampshire, with her electrician boyfriend Jamie Coates, 26, Joey and Springer spaniel Honey, five, said: “People lose their minds a bit when they see!
“Some people can’t believe their eyes and just want to play with him and take pictures.
“He always has his paparazzi poodle following him and taking pictures.”
She said: “Some people disagreed with the dyeing of his fur and even accused me of animal cruelty, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I love animals and haven’t done this with any of my other dogs as it wouldn’t suit their personalities as they would be overwhelmed with the attention.”
Katie swears wearing spectacular fur has made her proud poodle happier.
She said: “Joey wants people to play with him all the time. He was quite sad when he didn’t have any fresh fur because fewer people were pestering him.
“When the first lockdown happened, we turned him into a rainbow and from there his character came out.
“He loved it. He loved people coming up to him. It was so rewarding and we haven’t looked back.
Over the past two years, Joey has sported over 16 different fur styles, with everything from watermelon patterns to colors like Flump Marshmallow Candy and neon patterns with a brightly colored tail.
And Katie, who spends so much time looking after her “punk pooch” that her boyfriend “almost feels like a widower”, says she loves getting creative and turning Joey into something totally unexpected.
She said: “Jamie thinks I’m crazy, but he’s glad I’m happy. He almost feels like a widower, because I hardly ever see him. I’m still in the garage working on the next design!
Katie added: “As a dog groomer, I’ve always been aware of creative grooming and always wanted to get into it and learn how to do it.
“I try to come up with designs that no one has done before or that will suit my dog’s personality.
“I love doing it. It really makes me think creatively about things that will suit Joey and the kind of dog he is.
And her partner isn’t the only person who thinks she’s gone crazy sometimes.
Her family also wondered if her dog painting was some kind of “quarter-life crisis,” according to Katie.
She said: “When I started doing this everyone thought I was completely crazy, and even my family thought I was losing my mind. But now they can see why I’m doing it. , because Joey loves it and it excites me.
Some of the more complex designs, like the fluorescent green glow-in-the-dark skeleton Joey wore for Halloween last year, took more than eight hours over the course of a week.
But Katie says it’s all worth it when she sees the end result and Joey wags his tail excitedly when approached by poodle paparazzi at the local park.
She said: “The glow in the dark skeleton was particularly good.”
Katie added: ‘The average dog grooming takes around two hours, so I never sit Joey longer than that in one sitting, so he’s comfortable.
“The skeleton took eight hours, so I did it in stages over the whole week.
“I just apply each color. It’s like doing it to a human head and it’s all safe for animals.
Katie, who works by shaving a design into a dog’s coat and applying pet-safe dye and even nail polish, first tried creative grooming in August 2016 on her springer spaniel Summer, who sadly has since passed away.
But she says her skills have improved dramatically and Joey is a much better role model too.
She said, “I’m my own worst critic, so when I look at Joey’s rainbow pictures now, I just see the mistakes I made.”
Katie added: “But I’ve improved so much, even though I’m just flying. I try to keep it colorful and change it up. He has watermelons right now.
“One of my absolute favorites, because it was a little more complex, was the bumblebee, because I loved growing his hair out and getting the shapes and colors.”
“The zebra was one of my craziest ideas. After shaving the bumblebee, I decided to turn it into a zebra and it looked a little crazy.
But while her canine couture has mostly attracted belly rubs and playful petting, Katie has also been the victim of online abuse.
She said: “I think it’s so important for people to know that creative grooming is safe. There is no danger for the dog if you have used the right products and found a professional to do it for you.
“I wish it was more accepted because you can really show off your dog’s personality with these different styles and if it makes them happy why shouldn’t we do it?”
She added: “I am a groomer and a dog lover and would never do anything to hurt my dogs.
“Joey is one of a kind. He’s the funniest, craziest dog. But he’s also the best companion you could ask for.
“And he loves all the attention he gets for being the coolest dog in the park.”